Blue Raiders conclude regular season with UTEP
Saturday's kickoff set for 2:45 p.m. on MyTV 30November 26, 2013 · @MTAthletics
Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill
It's an exciting week. There's a lot going on with Senior Day. First, I was really proud last Saturday of how we played against Southern Miss. We heard all week about how they hadn't won a game and that we were really going to beat them badly. We went on the road and played in some really bad weather. It was cold, windy and rainy. I really thought our mental intensity was good to go down there and beat that team. They're a better team than their record shows. I'm really surprised they haven't won a game.
I was really proud of our team and the mindset that we went down there with to come out with a 42-21 win. It says a lot about our team. I told our team, and I told you guys last week, you get to November and your identity is formed. I thought we played exactly how our identity is. I'm really proud of our approach and the mental toughness that we played with to overcome that weather. It speaks volumes about what kind of team this is.
UTEP is our last regular season game. There's clichés in November. You want to "remember November," and so far we're 3-0 in November. It's also about finishing, and that's what we want to do this week. We're playing a UTEP team that has struggled with injuries. They lost their quarterback. They were scoring a bunch of points up until then. They've played two freshman quarterbacks. I think they're getting better, which you would expect them to with each game that they play. They won the week before, and then they got beat by Tulane this past week. Again, it's about us. We've got to play really well. We've got to practice well today if we want to play well on Saturday. That's going to be our focus this week.
It's Senior Day. These seniors mean the world to me. There's a special place in my heart for every one of them. Some of them have been here five years. Some of them have been here four, and some of them have been here two. What they've been able to accomplish in their time here is something I really appreciate, and I hope everyone that's a fan of Middle Tennessee understands what they've sacrificed personally, for this university and this football team. I hope we can send them out on a great note. It's not their last game. They still get one more in the bowl game. It will be special for these guys to go out in their last game by playing in a bowl game.
To be bowl eligible four out of five years is really special to me. It makes me proud of them and what they've accomplished.
On the seniors getting to a bowl game:
You can look at this senior class' mental toughness and what they've overcome. A lot of them have had to overcome multiple injuries to get to this point. Some of them have been injured one time. Their mental toughness, to overcome everything and to get to this point, has been as good senior leadership as I've ever been around. I'm hesitant to say it's the best senior leadership, as we had some great senior leadership last year in those guys we had last year.
We have some great senior leadership in this class. It's a great testament to them that we've been able to get where we've gotten in our first year in Conference USA. You talk about their toughness and resiliency. To beat Memphis on the last drive, Florida Atlantic in overtime, UAB in the last minute, and Marshall on the last play of the game. You can't win the games we've won without being resilient and without being tough.
On where Logan Kilgore ranks among all-time MT quarterbacks:
I hope Logan would agree with me, and I hope any quarterback would agree with me. The bottom line to me with a quarterback is that you win. I'm so glad Logan's leaving here as the all-time touchdowns leader. I'm glad that he's going to leave here having thrown for 2,000 yards three years in a row. I'm so glad here that he's going to leave here with the records and rankings he has. The bottom line is that I'm glad he's got a chance to go out with 17 wins in his final two seasons. He led this team to a bowl game this year. We should have been in a bowl game last year. He's had a heck of a career. I love him and respect him to death. I'm happy for him. I'm proud of everything he's accomplished. But if you told me he threw for 1,500 yards this year, 2,500 last year and we won eight games last year and nine this year, I would have said Logan had a heck of a career. When I was watching Peyton Manning and Tom Brady play on Sunday night, they were talking about how Brady's had so many fourth-quarter comebacks. Logan's had a bunch of them too. To me, that says a lot about a quarterback. You have that ability and toughness to bring your team back in the fourth quarter.
On remembering November:
When we got to November, we were 4-4. When it was September, we never talked about nine wins or 10 wins. We focus on this week and this opponent. If you get to November at 4-4, and you're talking about how you have a chance to finish November at 8-4, you're not going to reach that. We just tried to get to 5-4, then 6-4, then 7-4. Now, we're trying to get to 8-4.
On the seniors' final two games:
They have eight quarters left where they're going to play with this team and these guys sitting next to them. Enjoy it, embrace it and make it special. Do everything you can to play your best for the guy sitting next to you. I think they realize that today is their final Tuesday regular season practice. Yeah, we'll have another Tuesday practice, but it won't be in the regular season. You hear them talk about that. I hope they're enjoying it together. That locker room will never be the same. If they're fortunate enough to go to the NFL, they'll never have a locker room like they have now. It's something they need to cherish and enjoy, not get sentimental, but to really embrace it and enjoy it.
Redshirt Senior QB Logan Kilgore
On his most successful achievement:
Obviously, Coach Stockstill said it the best and is exactly right. At quarterback, your job is to do whatever you can to win and put your team in the best position to win. I compete every day in the season and the offseason to be the guy that puts us in the best position to win. My role has changed year-to-year and offense-to-offense, better at something, better at other things, but the chance to go back-to-back 8-win seasons for the first time in 100 years of Middle Tennessee football is exciting and that is the statistic you can hang your hat on.
On his thoughts of breaking records:
Yes, coming in to junior college, looking at all the different places to go and play, and to say that you're going to play Division I football. You're going to be on the Tuesday morning of your senior game week press conference talking about 36 starts in division I football, after 12 in junior college. That is something that would have surprised me. Throwing touchdowns, yards, wins, that is not all just one person. It's not anymore me than the defense, the offense, the offensive line or the receivers. Just the chance to have the opportunity to have played this many games and have this many memories in this place. I had never been to Murfreesboro, Tennessee before I came down on this visit. That is what would have surprised me more than any statistic.
On him being on the all-time list for quarterbacks:
More than any statistic or anything like that, I hope that when I leave here that people consider Middle Tennessee football better then when I came. As long as people I have gotten to know and people that have gotten to know me, respect the things that have been done off the field just as much on the field. It is an important aspect to being a student-athlete. We are not professional athletes and it is not just about football. Everything Coach Stockstill preaches, in the classroom and outside the football field, I hope those things stick out as well as back-to-back 8-win seasons. It is still a goal of mine to help this team finish strong.
On if practice intensifies for the seniors:
Yes, you get down to the last couple practices of the year, the last couple games of the year. Our focus has been high all season long but as we get down to the end of November and start of December every rep counts that much more and every practice is that much more intensified. There are no do-overs after these last two games. There are no do-overs after UTEP. There are no do-overs after the bowl game. This is what our legacy will be and it will be decided in these next two games.
On the emotions of senior day:
This senior class has done a great job all season long of handling all the different distractions. We went one week and it is 100 degrees down at FAU and everyone is asking how are you going to deal with the heat. The next week at BYU it's freezing cold. We have handled all the distractions and things like that. Coach Stockstill has a good point. The senior class will be honored at the banquet. That is when you can kind of get nostalgic and look back at all the times. Running out into the stadium and doing all of the ceremony will be fun for all the family, but I will be focused on UTEP and ready to kick the ball off. I hope that that stuff goes pretty quickly.
On the resilience of the seniors:
This senior class tells the freshmen and the sophomores all the time that if you weren't here for that 2-10 season you don't know what it was like. You don't really know what it was like. You have all of these people patting you on the back. We remember how it felt. It was not like we just rolled out the ball and didn't care about that season. That was a lot of tough times, a lot of pain in that season, but to have back-to-back 7-win seasons, that is a resilient group of people that can stick together. Never once did we quit or say we weren't going to go to practice or stop working hard. Jimmy Staten and those guys have done a great job, and know we are one of the top turnover producing defenses in the country. Going against those guys every day and the guys on offense, we definitely are a resilient bunch and I am looking forward to these next two games.
Redshirt Senior LB Stephen Roberts
On the senior day festivities:
Getting to see family and them mentioning you is great but I would rather go play football. I would rather it be at the end of the game instead of before the game. It doesn't really affect me that much. I am still focused on the game more than anything else.
On the importance of the UTEP game:
We are not just going to give up. It is still the regular season and we want to go out with a bang. This senior class, this team deserves that and I am going to do whatever I need to do and I know the guy next to me would do the same. We are looking towards this next win.
On the team's defensive scoring:
We expect to make big plays, so when it comes out and is shown on the field, we aren't really surprised.
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